(iii) Business Adviser? Are you? Let's make this simple.
During these particularly unusual times, I would hope that the accountants in business owners' lives are their most trusted and go-to advisers - to show them the way, to hold their hand, to give them ideas, solutions, confidence. If your clients aren't contacting you and looking to you for inspiration, I would be worried.
This is a point in history which we will look back on, for many different reasons, it's a pivotal moment in our society and our economy. Will you be judged well?
This is the time we really have to step up to the role of business adviser, not just accountant. And whilst our world-beating training and years of experience mean we do have the skills to do this, often it is the lack of how to share that advice and how to communicate new ideas clearly, which mean that business advice becomes just 'chatter' and often isn't valued by the accountant themselves as the most important piece of work they can do. So how will your client know that this is precisely what you are there for and value it themselves?
There are now a few advisory platforms on the market, to help you systemise your work with clients. But speaking to The CFN member firms, what I found was needed was a little different to the current available offering. Business owners need guiding gently, at their pace, quick or slow, to work through their business in a methodical way. With so much bombarding them, their concentration span will be limited and their funds low. But to make any substantive difference, they need to be willing to take on some specific tasks and to be accountable for doing so. Otherwise things distract them and soon they'll be heading off in another direction entirely. And accountancy firms need to be able to deliver this advice to them quickly and easily, because at the moment, we're busier than we've ever been!
For the past fifteen years, I have specialised in creating tools and products to assist accountancy firms to deliver more efficient and effective corporate finance services for their SME clients. I have purposefully stayed away from 'general practice', as the accountancy market has been well served by other providers for decades. But, at the request of my member firms, I could see there was a need for something slightly different. And with their encouragement and assistance, I've created a brand new programme called "Rebound & Recover" for accountancy firms to use with their clients.
This is a series of very short videos, only around 10 minutes each, but packed with information! They are pre-recorded so business owners can watch offline at a time which suits them. Each has an overview and some explanation, followed by specific tasks for your client to carry out, before they return to you for discussion and possible follow-up work. When they are ready, they can be provided with another module.
So far, there are a range of 15 modules, but it's possible that more could be added in time.
Phase 1 has now been launched and consists of the first six modules:
2. Cashflow & working capital
3. Managing your debtors
4. Managing costs
5. SWOT & Strategic Planning
6. Profitability improvement
The remaining modules in phase 2 (not yet published) cover other topics concerned with managing a business such as KPIs, CSR, exit planning, tax and HR. They are all written for this time whilst we are living through the pandemic, referencing the particular challenges which businesses are facing day in, day out.
Some business owners may choose to work through all the modules really quickly, and some may cherry pick which are most relevant. Although I would say each module in phase one is relevant to every business. They are simple and easy to understand, but even the most capable business owner will still pick up some tips and ideas.
This programme is available to business owners via their accountants only. Each accountancy firm can choose how to deliver this product to their clients. The presentations are complete and ready to use off-the-shelf, but if you would rather use the outline presentation and script (also provided), but add your branding and record your own narration, you can do that too. It can be as flexible as you need it to be, to work alongside your existing products and services.
But whether you subscribe to this particular product or not, every accountancy firm needs to be able to roll out a programme of thorough, yet succinct, business advice and be able to replicate it easily. Your clients are counting on you.
Opportunity to view the product
For accountants who wish to view the product, please complete this form and you will be sent a link to the delivery training programme for Modules 1 & 2.